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The Spectacle of Development: The Semiotics of Representations of the Global South

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posted on 2021-05-24, 13:15 authored by Ruth-Anne Seburn

The ethics of the image creation practices of modern development and humanitarian NonGovernmental Organizations (NGOs) exist in a complex realm of colonial legacies and historically misguided development approaches. Through a semiotic analysis of the top images on ten Canadian NGO websites, combined with an interview with a Communications Director, this research examines the underlying messages presented about people in the Global South to audiences in the Global North. In order to present legible narratives to an audience of varying perspectives, signs, symbols and allusions which have become enregistered in the cultural lexicon are utilized to present a world that is at once the same as and yet simultaneously widely different from our own. These semiotic tools, which are often used to distract from larger socioeconomic inequalities, can be highlighted to not only analyze how people in the Global South are represented, but how they could be represented more truthfully and ethically.





Master of Arts


Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type